Touching thousands of hearts in
thousand different ways - Part II
moment the word 'Go' was given, Swami's teachers and the students
swung into action. As always, very little time was available to
get organised; but then, in His typical fashion, Swami made sure
that everything went right, to drive home the point [once more!]
that He is the real doer.
Statistics on paper
hardly reveal much, impressive though they maybe. Yes, over two
hundred villages and six hundred hamlets had to be served. About
half a million food packets and laddus had to be distributed, and
about a hundred thousand pieces of cloth had to be given to the
poor and destitute in the villages. But how was one to get to
these villages in the first place, especially when were hardly any
motorable roads? How were estimates of the population in those
villages to be obtained when even Public Administration for
villages made ad hoc estimates? Where was the food to be cooked?
Who would do the packing and who would organise the distribution?
There were many pertinent and not so pliable puzzles But nobody
had any time even to think about these! There was no need to
either. They were all taken care of by the Master, as He went
about, executing His Master plan.
got organised with lightning speed as always happens when Swami
runs the show. All questions suddenly stumbled upon their answers,
as if by magic! Collection of statistics, sorting the clothes and
readying them for distribution, the cooking, and the packing -
tough though all these were, they actually formed the easy part.
More difficult was the preparation of maps [hardly anything
existed to start with], route planning, lining up the vehicles for
distribution, and, above all the logistic planning. Experts in
Information Technology talk of paperless office. Here was a
massive project literally done without any pieces of paper or
memos sent from anyone to anyone! The plain fact was that Swami
gave absolutely no time for all this.
God's work is never
easy, and what was feared came true; there were no maps available
to get to the villages! So parties were hurriedly sent in advance
to scout all the areas to be covered, and monitor all the
so-called roads/mud tracks to be taken. Based on the information
gathered, route maps were hurriedly prepared and photocopies made.
The volunteers were organised into groups, each group servicing a
set of nearby villages. Team-leaders and co-ordinators were
identified by the senior teachers, and detailed briefing was given
to them every evening. Over a dozen trucks were commandeered and a
few tractor-trailers as well. Portable wireless sets were procured
and fitted to the trucks. In addition, several people were given
walkie-talkies so that they could communicate with each other and
also the mobile units. As if all this was not enough, a control
room was set up in Prasanthi Nilayam and a mobile repeater
wireless outpost was arranged to be erected each day in one
central location in the distribution area to provide anchorage and
action began on October 31th at the Pedda Venkama Raju Kalyana
Mandapam [the Paatha Mandiram of the pre-1950 days].It was the
first day of GRAMA SEVA. In keeping with the popular adage,
charity was to begin at home.Swami had decided that the Grama Seva
should be first done at Puttaparthi. In the morning, after Swami
came out for Darshan, all the boys and teachers rose and went
around the Mandir chanting Vedas and singing Bhajans while Swami
stood on the veranda smiling, watching, and showering His Divine
Grace. The procession streamed out of the Sai Kulwant Hall to
reassemble at the Kalyana Mandapam. From there, all the teachers
and students went in a procession, singing Bhajans, to the Siva
temple that now marks the birth place of Swami. The procession
then wound its way back to the Kalyana Mandapam for the formal
commencement of the distribution. Meanwhile, Swami the
ever-anxious Mother, came to the Kalyana Mandapam to see if
everything was alright - the human-aspect of the Living God!
compound of the Kalyana Mandapam was teeming with the poor and the
destitute of Puttaparthi, who were then given sweets, food and
clothes by the people assigned for duty there. Others fanned out
in various directions, moving through the town distributing food
and sweets from house to house, to each and every member of the
family, irrespective of whether the persons were poor or rich. The
students and teachers went not only to the residences but also to
the shops, telephone booths, bus stand, street vendors, and the
various hutment colonies. No one was left out. Everywhere, with a
smile, the boys said, "Sai Ram. We are privileged to offer to you
these sweets and food which come with Love, Blessings and the
Grace of Bhagavan Baba."
everyone, it was a new experience, somewhat tiring but very
rewarding nevertheless. Swami came out early for Darshan that
afternoon. Some of the teachers and students had returned but many
were still to come back. Soon they also trudged in, bushed, but
beaming with satisfaction. But Swami was not very happy. Why?
Because many boys had not eaten lunch. They were busy doing
service, and after that rushed for Darshan. So, we got strict
instructions, "From tomorrow, all of you will eat promptly at
11.30 A.M. No exceptions and no excuses. You may suspend service
for a while to have lunch. After eating, you may resume service!"
Words from a concerned Mother, to Her children.
One was a mere curtain-raiser. After all, Puttaparthi was home and
there were no serious problems with roads, maps, or even logistics.
Day two would prove a lot tougher. And so would every other day,
as one went farther and farther, into more remote villages. But it
also promised to be more exciting and challenging.
Radio Sai E-Magazine,
October 1, 2003